Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Coveted Position & an Invitation

It is with great joy that I am presenting you with my latest writing project which will hopefully bridge a gap, that between the hardcore perfumista reading & participating on blogs & fora and the newbie who is interested in the world of scent but wants clear info, without the burden of feeling hundreds of posts behind and a less eccentric point of view. Joining the team at About.com, becoming their Fragrance Expert, and building the Fragrance site from scratch is a great responsibility in addressing this gap and I hope to do it with the great insights that you, my dear readers, have given me over the years. It was an honor to be offered this position and I intend to give my due with great, engaging content.

In the meantime you can check out the site on the link Fragrance.About.com and subscribe to my Newsletter if you like. The process is easy: you enter your preferred email address on the left hand column (under Free Email Newsletter) and hit Sign Up. That's it! The newsletters are going out just once a week, so they won't cram your inbox, every Saturday afternoon US Eastern time.
I'm sure that even seasoned perfume lovers might find an interesting nugget here and there and please feel free to email me offering suggestions on themes. I will continue to write on this blog, where we can take it on a more personal and eccentric level, as well as on Fragrantica, where I'm indebted to the kind owners who have treated me so nicely. So, Elena to the power of 3! (You can roll your eyes now, I suppose!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Scent of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: Not What You Think

Dear reader, you who are about to grab your credit card and order that fabulous new bottle of Tom Ford Velvet Orchid to go with your new velvet berry lip and your black suede ankle boots, or you shopping for a Christmas gift of Jo Malone Wood Sage and Sea Salt for your spouse. Stop and think a little about the greater picture; outer space, to be exact!


Yup, you heard that right, scent is a universal thing. A comet in space smells of rotten eggs, horse urine, formaldehyde, bitter almonds, alcohol, vinegar and a hint of sweet ether. Incredibly eh? Apparently researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland deciphered how the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet smells by analyzing the chemicals in its coma, the fuzzy head surrounding the nucleus, using one of the instruments aboard the European spacecraft Rosetta which is preparing to drop a lander onto the comet's icy surface on November 12. What's even cooler (if you're so inclined) is that the closer the comet comes to the Sun, the more intense the odor will become as per project leader Kathrin Altwegg from the University of Bern.

News according to Times of India reproducing metro.co.uk reportage.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Acqua di Parma Collezione Murano: Christmas Holidays Gift Ideas

The silhouette of the small island is visible from Fondamenta Nuove to the open sea. Known as the “Isle of Glass”, Murano is famous the world over as the place of origin of beautiful glass objects and sculptures. A patchwork of workshops and furnaces spreading across the lagoon, where skilled masters work, blow, cut, and shape their unique masterpieces. The art of glass-blowing was developed in Venice in the year 1000. In 1291 furnaces were moved to Murano and since then the whole island has been dedicated to the glass-blowing art. In Murano, like nowhere else, Italian genius figured out a variety of techniques to draw different and fascinating shapes from glass.

With the Collezione Murano, Acqua di Parma launches a new form of multi-sensory design: combining the famous art of Venetian glass-blowing with 3 ambient fragrances in double-poured wax.

The bright and floral notes of the linden tree spread through the air and seem to unveil the thousand secret gardens concealed among the canals and buildings in Venice. A city within the city, pervaded with green, flowers, and perfumes. A fragrance full of light, enriched with sweet honey and elegant sandal wood.

The flame fluctuates gently, meanwhile the deep embracing notes of mahogany are perceived, blended with the energizing accents of vetiver and the resinous ones of elemi. These are the warm and intense scents of one of the wood varieties used by Venetian craftsmen to make the famous gondolas, which was also used in the past to build the huge vessels sailing towards the East.

A fragrance diffusing the soft notes of tonka. A scent inspired by the splendor of  Venice, the ancient exchange and trade venue. A maze of bazaars and small shops, a crossroads of travelers and merchants that brought treasures from all over the world. Dive into the past with a voluptuous fragrance, which blends tonka with caressing vanilla, spicy clove accents and vibrant ginger notes.

More info & purchase: www.acquadiparma.com

The winner of the draw....

...for the giveaway of Youth Dew is Любов / Lyubov Please email me using Contact with your shipping data so I can have this arranged to be shipped to you.

Thanks everyone for the enthusiastic participation (thanks to Lia for offering in the first place!!) and till the next one, soon!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Aftelier Perfume Palimpsest: fragrance review

I recall a particularly tough professor back in my University days demanded such hard-to-crack questions that one way to bypass embarrassment and speech impediments during the ordeal of the oral examination was to begin by defining what a thing wasn't supposed to be, the latter part of the definition implied to be known to both partners in the discussion at least.  Example: "Kintsugi has absolutely no relation to ikebana."  [ed.note all right, all right, apart from both being Japanese concepts, I mean].  This kind of "definition by negation" is sometimes useful to the fragrance writer because perfume descriptions are so very hard to do justice to in the first place. Palimpsest is one such case, not only because it has an indefinable quality of pure exquisiteness, but also because it is perfumer Mandy Aftel's very best.

Zil Hoque; Oil, 2009, "Palimpsest I"  via (recalling the horse in Salvador Dali's Tempation of St.Anthony

I can begin by saying that Aftelier Palimpsest is nothing like you'd expect an all naturals perfume to smell like; although I'm fond of the raw energy of some all naturals, there is a certain medicinal or vegetal quality that sometimes comes a bit too forcefully at first, which is probably the reason there is so much hesitation among perfume enthusiasts regarding this branch of perfumery art. One of the reasons for avoiding that might be that Mandy is using natural isolates for the first time in such a context, such as gamma dodecalactone (peachy, apricot-y) and phenylacetic acid (a honeyed note). They play out beautifully.
Another thing that I could negate is the official definition of a "fruity floral". Yes, the ripe peachiness is not unknown among fruity floral perfumes, but it's as far removed from the typical Barbie wannabe on the Sephora counter as could possibly be. With a name like Palimpsest I suppose one would expect it to deviate far and wide!

Palimpsest is a word I first came by when I was 15 and reading The Name of the Rose, the famous novel by Umberto Eco, "a palimpsest" as the author  introduced it. The cunning of the narrative technique relied on making the narrator retell a story that is based on an even earlier narration, lifted from an older manuscript and with extensive quotations from other books often in their turn referencing even older books. As Eco maintains throughout his opus in an intertextual turn of mind "books talk about other books" which is true enough in my, lesser than his, experience. All the tales are being woven into a "palimpsest", the old parchment scroll that bears writing over former writing that had been carefully scratched off to make room for new but is still vaguely visible beneath. In a similar manner perfumes talk about other perfumes and intertextuality in scent is a wonderful dialogue that I had occupied myself with breaking down a bit in the past.


Aftelier Palimpsest is one such perfume, taking inspirations from several points of departure and offering something new and coherent, recapitulating the history of perfumery, a given since it sprang from the research Aftel did for her book "Fragrant" out this October (you can order it on discount on this link), but being contemporary all the same! Midnight in the Garden of Eden; honeyed streams of lush florals (jasmine grandiflorum) with a sensuous and mysterious Lilith undercurrent of what I perceive as ambergris (a refined animalic perfume note), speak of a layered tapestry where one is hard pressed to see where one golden thread ends and another, in a slightly different hue, begins.

As Gaia, The Non Blonde, notes in her excellent review on the origins of the inspiration for Palimpsest:
"The gum of the Australian firetree (also known as Christmas tree), or by its official name, Nuytsia floribunda, is sweet and eaten raw by the ingenious people of Western Australia. It's not a common ingredient in perfumery (the only other one I know of was the limited edition Fire Tree by Australian brand Nomad Two Worlds, and I had a hard time warming up to its rawness). I never smelled the firetree as a raw ingredient, so it's hard for me to tell how much of what I smell in Palimpsest comes from it and what is pure imagination. But fantasy is a big part of the perfume joy, isn't it?"

My palette of raw materials, though rather extensive, is similarly limited in regards to this particular essence, so any opinion I might proffer on the adherence to the natural facets of the material would be illusory and misleading. Mandy herself mentions that firetree has rose and lilac facets with a milky undertone that the longer it develops the more it reveals smoky, oud-like, leathery tones. Talk about a multi-tasker! "It possesses an unearthly beauty which, ironically, arises from the soil", says fragrance connoisseur and fairy godmother to indies Ida Meister.
What I can say with certainty myself is that the golden incandescence of Aftelier Palimpsest has to be experienced first hand and quickly at that.

Aftelier Palimpsest comes as an eau de parfum (full bottle costs $170) and an extrait de parfum (same price). Samples of either retail at $6, while a mini of the pure parfum will set you back $50 on aftelier.com.

In the interests of disclosure, I was sent a sample vial directly by the perfumer for reviewing purposes. 

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